The 2018/19 season hasn’t exactly gone to plan for the Houston Rockets and plenty of NBA fans will be expecting the Toronto Raptors to secure a huge road win this weekend. Neutrals will not want to miss this one…
With the Raptors now as short as 2/1 with William Hill to win the Eastern Conference title this season, Nick Nurse’s side will want to send out a statement of intent. This is the perfect stage for Toronto to remind their rivals that they are the number one team in the East.
For Houston, this is all about building some momentum. Only a fool would write the Rockets off and with MVP-elect James Harden in fine form, anything is possible. This could be one of the most exciting games of the weekend – an absolute must watch.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the two teams ahead of this weekend’s contest. The Raptors will fancy their chances ahead of this contest but home advantage could swing this in favour of Houston.
Raptors Must Respond After Indiana Defeat
Toronto head into this contest on the back of a disappointing loss at Indiana. The Pacers ran out 110-106 winners and the Canadian outfit will be looking to bounce back at the first time of asking here.
Nurse will have his side fired up and ready to go ahead of the trip to Houston and plenty of punters will be backing the Raptors to emerge victorious. On paper, Toronto are stronger than their opponents and we could see the road team pull away if everything goes to plan.
Toronto are now 1/3 to win the Atlantic Division title this year – a given barring a significant collapse. The Raptors will be eyeing up a first Conference Finals appearance since 2015/16 and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Nurse’s side reach the NBA Championship series.
Kawhi Leonard’s absence was clear for all to see in that loss to Indiana. The former San Antonio Spurs star has now missed four games in a row and Toronto fans will be hoping that he returns sooner rather than later. He can be their difference maker this year.
Rockets Struggling To Build Momentum
With a 5-5 record in their last 10 NBA games, Houston are struggling. Harden has carried the team for most of the campaign but he cannot do it all on his own. A road win over the New York Knicks last time out helped to silence some of Houston’s critics…
It is now time for the Rockets to put a solid run of form together. Houston have an excellent home record this year, winning 17 of their 24 regular season games. The Rockets faithful will be quietly confident of a positive result ahead of their biggest game of the year so far.
Despite their recent woes, 888Sport are offering 11/25 for the Rockets to win the Southwest Division this season. Plenty of punters will fancy Houston to turn things around in the next few weeks and we could see Harden and co challenge for supremacy in the West.
The Raptors are well placed to just about edge this one. Leonard’s absence is concerning ahead of what could have been a mouth-watering showdown with Harden but Toronto have the strength in depth to cope in his absence.
Houston’s endeavour could swing the result in their favour but the Raptors will be quietly confident of keeping their opponents at bay. Watch this space, a modern classic awaits.
TIP: Toronto Raptors to win
CORRECT SCORE: Houston Rockets 118-121 Toronto Raptors